Can the USS Edson succeed as a naval museum?
Wed, 25 Jul 2012 02:10:41 GMT —
The USS Edson is due to arrive in the Saginaw Bay in the next two weeks. She will undergo the works - a full restoration before opening as the newest naval museum.
But it's going to take a lot more than just a beauty treatment to ensure she'll attract throngs of visitors.
"They require a great deal of TLC,â?? said Jeff Nilsson, executive director of the Historic Naval Ships Association. â??And it's constant. And up there it may be even more so because of the winters that the ship is going to be facing,â?? Nilsson said of the Edson.
The Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum hopes to make the Edson the main attraction on Bay City's riverfront. But experts say successful warship museums need to find creative ways to make money.
â??You must run the museum as a business,â?? Nilsson said, citing, for example, the USS Midway in San Diego.
The ship is a museum by day, event venue by night. Its downtown location is easy to find and ideal for tourists. Last year, it drew more than a million visitors, making it the only naval ship museum to crack that threshold.
The battleship Texas in the Houston area, on the other hand, is battling signs of age and the rising cost of maintenance. Water leaks shut it down in June, before it re-opened earlier this month.
Other struggling naval ship museums are getting by on fewer full-time workers in the weak economy.
The waters could be rough for the Edson.
"I know they're very proud to be getting this ship,â?? Nilsson said. â??And I wish them every bit of luck, and I know they can make a success of it."
Still, there's an allure about the destroyer that if marketed in the right way, can be a lasting testament to America's naval history and to all the sailors who served on board.